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GTP: Mosport 1981

August 30, 2009 by GTP.com · 1 Comment 

You’re starting last at Mosport in the newest, fastest machine on the sportscar scene, the Lola-T600.

You have six hours to slice through the three dozen cars, so time isn’t a major concern, but with the grid filled with bullet-like Porsche turbos, making it to the front won’t be the easiest of undertakings. Throw into the mix that like most tracks of this time, the daunting, brutally fast circuit has yet to receive many of the safety measures we take for granted today, and the race appears to have more chances for calamity than success.

Welcome to the world of sportscar legend Brian Redman and co-driver Eppie Wietzes, sharing the yellow #7 Cooke-Woods Racing car 28 years ago this month.

On that day in Mosport — August 16th, 1981 — Porsche prevailed as veterans Rolf Stommelen and Harald Grohs piloted their Andial Meister 935 to victory, despite a storming drive by Redman and Canadian Trans-Am veteran Wietzes to take second place.

After years of road car-themed Porsches, namely the 935 silhouettes, Lola unveiled the first serious alternative to GT racing (then classified as ‘GTX’) by bringing a real GTP solution to North America.

Facing a large horsepower deficit, Redman and Wietzes used all of the power their 5.7L Chevy V-8 had to offer, and relied heavily on the Lola’s advanced aerodynamics and superior downforce to scythe through the competition.

While it was still early in its development at Mosport, the T600’s massive underwing and sleek shape fulfilled everything IMSA founder John Bishop hoped the new GTP regulations would represent.

Thanks to the Lola, Porsche 935 owners knew their best days were behind them.

Many of the great sportscar names from the period were there at Mosport — Derek Bell in a Porsche 934, David Hobbs and Hans Stuck in a BMW M1, Hurley Haywood sharing a Bayside 935 with team owner Bruce Leven, Bobby Rahal and Gianpiero Moretti in their Momo-liveried 935, Bob Akin and Skeeter McKitterick in their Coke 935…Porsche icon Bob Garretson…Jim Busby and John Fitzpatrick…Spanish racer ‘Jamsal’…it was a packed grid.
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The locals were also well represented, with esteemed Canadian driver Bill Adam in the race (driving a brutish Camaro), along with Uli Bieri, Ludwig Heimrath Jr. and Sr., and a large contingent of skilled professionals and enthusiastic gentlemen racers.

Look beyond the heavy hitters, and a few mechanical oddities made their way onto the grid — Porsche 914/6s, and even (take a deep breath) a Triumph TR-8!

Five wins in the GTP-class Lola helped to deliver the 1981 IMSA GT driver’s crown to Redman, yet Porsche’s sheer numbers meant Lola would have to settle for second in the manufacturer’s contest.

Enjoy this 38 minute highlight reel of the event — Redman’s Lola makes extensive use of in-car footage during the race — well ahead of its time in 1981.

Learn more about the ALMS by visiting www.AmericanLeMans.com.

(Video courtesy of the American Le Mans Series)

GTP: 1981 Mosport IMSA GT Race Broadcast from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

1981 Mosport Yearbooka

1981 Mosport Yearbook 2a

GTP: 1989 Portland IMSA GTP Race Broadcast

August 21, 2009 by Marshall Pruett · 1 Comment 

Spend 97 minutes with Geoff Brabham, Price Cobb, Davy Jones and the rest of the players in the 1989 Portland IMSA GTP race…one that went down in great controversy after the checkered flag was displayed early.

Jaguar’s Price Cobb crossed the finish line first as the checkered flag waved prematurely, and Geoff Brabham crossed it last just when it was scheduled to fall. Despite Nissan’s victory circle celebrations, the win would be overturned and given to Cobb.

While it made for great drama at the time; it’s all IMSA fans spoke about, but the altered outcome did little to sway the championship as the Nissan/Brabham freight train carried onto their second consecutive GTP title.

1st Lammers / Cobb Jaguar XJR-10 Castrol Jaguar Racing
2nd Geoff Brabham Nissan GTP ZX-T Electramotive Engineering
3rd Chip Robinson Nissan GTP ZX-T Electramotive Engineering
4th Nielsen / Jones Jaguar XJR-9 Castrol Jaguar Racing
5th Miller / Earl Spice SE89P Chevrolet Jim Miller Racing
6th Andretti / Wollek Porsche 962 Busby Racing
7th Moran / Ribbs Eagle HF89 Toyota All American Racers
8th Mass Porsche 962C Bayside Racing/Bruce Leven
9th Adams Porsche 962 Hotchkis Racing
10th Gianpiero Moretti Porsche 962C Momo/Gebhardt Racing

GTP: 1989 Portland IMSA GTP Race Broadcast from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

GTP: 2009 Monterey Historics Trackside Action

August 19, 2009 by GTP.com · 8 Comments 

Here’s 36 shots from trackside at the 2009 Monterey Historics, featuring the IMSA GTP cars.

(To see the full-sized images in each gallery, click the icon at the bottom right on the menu bar.)

GTP: Hotchkis Porsche 962 In-Car, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

August 16, 2009 by GTP.com · 13 Comments 

Mark Hotchkis leads the GTP race from pole during the 36th annual Rolex Monterey Historics held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, winning handily and lapping cars by the 5th tour in this 10-lap race.

Hotchkis streaks through turn 3. (© GrandTouringPrototype.com)

Hotchkis streaks through turn 3. (© GrandTouringPrototype.com)


In what might be a first, Hotchkis races the 962 with a helmet-mounted camera, giving the viewer the same view he has from inside the cockpit of the famed German prototype.

Driving his family owned 962, the purple Wynn’s Porsche was purchased new and raced by the family in 1986 and has remained in their hands ever since.

With the majority of the 962s having changed hands multiple times throughout the years, their story is unique in that the GTP car was first driver by John Hotchkis Sr, then John Hotchkis Jr, and now now by the youngest son, former Indy Lights star, Mark Hotchkis.

Despite the polite nature vintage racing has associated with it, Mark does anything but treat his 962 with kid gloves.

Hotchkis managed to lap almost half the field in the 10-lap event where he was chased home by ALMS star Gunnar Jeanette in a 1994 Kremer-Porsche K8. Rudy Junco finished third in his 1988 962, Patrick Dempsey took 4th with the stunning Mazda RX-792P, and Tom Malloy earned fifth in his Leyton House-liveried 1988 962.

Enjoy the full race below from Mark’s perspective. He used the adjustable boost knob on the bottom left as necessary on the straights, and also holds his foot on the brake pedal as he leads the field to the start in order to build 50+ psi of turbo boost.

The sounds of the chirping wastegate is pure heaven…

GTP: Hotchkis Porsche 962 In-Car, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

GTP: Bob Akin Racing

August 15, 2009 by Marshall Pruett · Leave a Comment 

One of the featured cars at the 2009 edition of the Monterey Historics is the Bob Akin Racing Porsche 962 from 1985. Piloted at the Historics by Bobby Akin Jr., the famous Coke-liveried 962 was resurrected after a frightening crash suffered by Akin Sr. when he was hit by a spinning John Paul Jr. at the 1985 Charlotte IMSA GTP race.

While Akin walked away unharmed, the same could not be said for his 962. After a long and careful restoration by renowned Porsche specialist Kevin Jeanette, Akin Jr., a successful IMSA racer in his own right (most notably while driving Jack Roush’s Ford Muston GTO cars), will give fans a great look at the red-and-white Porsche for the first time in almost 25 years.

Legendary Porsche sportscar entrant and driver Bob Akin, circa 1985.

Legendary Porsche sportscar entrant and driver Bob Akin, circa 1985.

In an interview I did this week with former Bob Akin Racing driver Hans Stuck, the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner had nothing but fond recollections of his time spent racing for the Akins in the 1980s.

“I had a fabulous relationship with the Akin family. They became good friends for me because they were very smart about racing in IMSA, but they also brought very much closeness to the team. As they say, ‘our family is your family,’ and this is exactly how they treated me. Bob’s wife, his son, his daughters – they are all very special to me. His son Bobby and I still keep in touch and email each other!”

As a factory driver for Porsche, Stuck was responsible for the testing and development of the IMSA-spec 962, but it when Akin Racing inquired about assistance from a factory driver for their 935, Stuck was quick to accept the offer.

“An opportunity came through Mr. Jurgen Barth at Porsche, and I was asked if I wanted to drive a Porsche 935 for an important customer in the United States. The 935 fascinated me, so I said ‘Yes!’ immediately. This was the start of great times for us and for me especially. With the Porsche 962, Bob Akin Racing was a very serious team. Myself, Jo Gartner and Bob Akin did many races together, including what I think must be one of the team’s biggest successes, the win at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1986. People ask me about this race victory today more than many other achievements in my career.”

Akin was well known as an IMSA team owner and driver, but Stuck made it clear that Bob Sr. was more than a businessman with a racing team. His driving skills were essential to the team’s success.

“Bob was a fantastic driver for what we call a ‘gentleman drivers.’ He was as fast as or faster than most of the drivers in the series — very, very good. He hired me and Jo Gartner as the professional drivers for the team and always knew best how to use us. He was a very smart businessman like that. He knew that his sponsors wanted the car to qualify as high as possible, so Bob never questioned this, never let his ego get in the way. Some team owners that also raced their cars insisted on qualifying, or starting the race because it made them feel important. Bob was never this way. He was very quick and very accomplished, but he allowed Jo and I to help the team when extra speed was needed. The trust we had in each other, and for us in him as our co-driver was magnificent.”

While Bob Akin passed away in 2002 at the age of 66 from injuries suffered while testing a Nissan GTP car at Road Atlanta, Stuck says he’s reminded of his old friend when he looks at the accomplishments of Akin’s son.

“Bobby is very much like his father. A very fast racecar driver and a very strong businessman. When we raced in GTP, Bobby was young but starting his own career in GTO and GTU. We even shared a car together at one race, a Porsche 944, and that was fun.

“My best memory of Bobby from those times was one night when we had dinner at the hotel we stayed at. Jo and Bobby were sharing a room across from mine, so I excused myself for a moment from the table, went and got a key to their room and turned up the heater to 95 degrees. We ate dinner for some time after that so it became very hot – like a sauna. When they opened the door it was like they were hit by the sun! They opened all the windows and kept the door open for quite some time so it could cool down and they could go to sleep. I still laugh when I think about this today!”

GrandTouringPrototype.com will have an in-depth video interview with Bobby Akin from the Monterey Historics, but in the meantime, enjoy the items below.

First is the 1985 Bob Akin Racing Press Kit.

(To see the fill-sized images, click the icon at the far right of the menu bar below)

(To see the fill-sized images, click the icon at the far right of the menu bar below)

Next, we have the 1985 Charlotte IMSA GTP race broadcast where Akin’s 962 was heavily damaged.

GTP: 1985 Charlotte IMSA GTP Race Broadcast pt 1 from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

GTP: 1985 Charlotte IMSA GTP Race Broadcast pt 2 from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

Finally, we have a brief photo gallery of the car in action in 1985 and from the Pre-Historics just last weekend. More photos will be added to the gallery over the weekend, so please check back.

(To see the fill-sized images, click the icon at the far right of the menu bar above)

GTP: Sounds Of Laguna Seca IMSA GTP, 1987

August 14, 2009 by GTP.com · Leave a Comment 

What happens when a 16-year-old Marshall Pruett drives down to Laguna Seca to watch the 1987 IMSA GTP race with a camera in one hand and a tape recorder in the other?

First, he takes a bunch of photos that range from blurry to overexposed. Second, he fashions a hook out of a coat hanger to suspend his tape recorder from the fence on the outside of turn 2, then captures some of the most delightful sounding racing cars he’s ever heard.

More than twenty years later, and with that cassette tape somehow managing to remain intact, I transferred the audio to my laptop, cleaned it up as best I could, and posted it below.

The warbling sound at the beginning of the tape is accurate — it’s a driver pumping the brakes to warm them up, hence the engine note rising and falling. From there, the first big HOLY %$!* burst of sound (at 00:41) is a Group 44 Jaguar XJR-7 streaking by at full chat.

I don’t know all of the physics and mechanics behind it, but the Group 44 V-12 engines had a completely different sound than the TWR V-12s. The XJR-9s and 12s had more bass — they had equal parts Motown Soul and Memphis funk coming from their exhausts.

Group 44’s had more treble and lived at a higher register — they were operatic in the tinny heights they reached. I still grin today whenever I hear this tape.

Take a listen and experience the Jags, Porsche 962, Buick and Chevy turbos, a Ford V-8, and variety of Pontiac and Mazda-powered Lights cars as they sounded back in 1987.

GTP: 1987 Sounds of Laguna Seca from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

GTP: Laguna Seca Camel GT Program Covers

August 14, 2009 by GTP.com · Leave a Comment 

A look at some of the program covers for Laguna Seca’s Camel GT between 1975 and 1984.

(To see the full-sized images in each gallery, click the icon at the bottom right on the menu bar.)

GTP: 1987 IMSA Yearbook

March 15, 2009 by MP · 1 Comment 

Relive the 1987 IMSA season through the excellent yearbook the series once produced.

Look for more IMSA yearbooks to reappear here soon.

(To see the full-sized images in each gallery, click the icon at the bottom right on the menu bar.)

GTP: Gary Horrocks’ IMSA Photo Gallery

March 14, 2009 by GTP.com · Leave a Comment 

A collection of photos from sportscar journalist Gary Horrocks.

For more of Gary’s work, visit DailySportsCar.com

(To see the full-sized images, click the icon at the far right of the menu bar below)

Gary can be reached at gdsbrrocks@msn.com

GTP: 1982 Camel GT Guide

March 14, 2009 by GTP.com · Leave a Comment 

Delve inside the propaganda, erm, ‘promotional materials‘ from Camel as they explain the IMSA GT series in a free pamphlet that would never be distributed today…

(To see the full-sized images, click the icon at the far right of the menu bar below)

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